University News

UCS funding structure prevents allocation difficulties, leaders say

UCS’ multi-part structure sidesteps funding allotment issues faced by Harvard Undergraduate Council

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 3, 2014

While Harvard’s student government leaders held a rally last month protesting what they call their restrictive budget, leaders of Brown’s Undergraduate Council of Students said they are satisfied with the funds allotted to them.

Harvard Undergraduate Council President Gus Mayopoulos and Vice President Sietse Goffard, both juniors, led a rally Feb. 20 in front of Massachusetts Hall demanding a $250,000 increase to their $489,000 budget.

“I was really encouraged by the turnout — we had about 100 people show up, and they were all really passionate and enthusiastic about our mission,” Goffard told The Herald.

The Undergraduate Council’s limited budget prevents it from fully meeting student groups’ financial needs, Goffard said.

But the funding structure for student groups is set up differently at Brown, where UCS approves student groups’ categorizations but the Undergraduate Finance Board is responsible for assessing their funding needs, said Alex Drechsler ’15, UCS Student Activities chair and a former Herald opinions columnist.

“The fact that the way student groups are organized is divided between UCS and UFB is really important and a great check on the power of each organization,” Drechsler said.

“Students make the decision about what groups exist, how those groups exist, whether they get money and how much money they get, and at many other schools, it’s done by the administration,” he added.

The University’s funding structure prevents UCS  from having conflicts of interest in which its funding would take precedence over that of other groups, said UCS President Todd Harris ’14.5. “UCS every year makes an effort to ask for the smallest amount of money possible, so that we can ensure that other students have access to the most funds,” he said.

But two years ago, controversy flared over the UCS budget when then-President Ralanda Nelson ’12 proposed an amendment to the UCS constitution that would have let the Council determine its own funding without UFB approval, The Herald reported at the time.

Today, the Student Initiatives Fund, which provides money to student innovators, represents the “single biggest allocation in our budget, and I think that’s the way it should be,” Harris said.

At Harvard, many student groups do not have the necessary funding to fully engage in their pursuits, Goffard said. He cited literary magazines that cannot cover start-up costs, cultural outreach groups that must charge for participation to cover food costs and club sports teams that cannot afford necessary safety equipment.

“We really think the university should chip in a little for covering underfunded student organizations and club sports and help committees,” Goffard added. “Our goal was to make it visible to the university and the administrators that this is an issue that students really care about and feel deeply about because it impacts them on a very daily basis.”

The rally did not accomplish its goal, since administrators decided not to increase the Undergraduate Council’s funds, Mayopoulos told The Herald. Undergraduate Council leaders plan on meeting with Michael Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Harvard, he said. “Hopefully he can help us get the funding for these student groups.”

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2 Comments

  1. bracketing the lie at work here, what exactly is the point of this article?

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